Matthew 17:14-21 KJV (Jesus heals a boy possessed with a demon)
14And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.17Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.18And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. 19Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? 20And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
As this story begins, a feeling of desperation has overcome a father. His son has been completely possessed by an evil spirit that continues to drive him into deadly situations. Things are so bad that this father has constantly found himself saving his deranged son from death. One can only imagine how crazed this son must have been to be able to drown himself without knowing or walk into fire without consciousness of danger or death? The pleading father was undoubtedly worried and restless, weary from the endless attention required to simply keep his son alive.
Ironically, the concern of this story’s father is the growing reality of God, the creator of mankind. As He looks upon the earth, it grows increasingly corrupt with those driven to insanity by Satan and sin. Humanity has reached such a sinful state before, and God decided to destroy the entire earth with a flood.
“5And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
The similar dispositions of our Heavenly Father and the father of the demon-possessed boy is no accident. They intentionally suggest that there is much more happening in this story than immediately seen. Upon deeper examination of the entire situation, the state of the people involved and the peculiar words of Jesus, a prophetic parallel unfolds that purposely illustrates the circumstances of a much broader situation and judgment. When it comes to mankind, we have already fallen under the water. How close is humanity to falling into fire?
Breaking Down the Story of the Demon-Possessed Boy
a. As verse 14 starts, the father of the story is kneeling in desperation to Jesus, pleading for mercy upon his son. While he, himself is not meant to represent God, his longing for mercy is representation of God’s desire to preserve life. While there could never be an equivalent to Yahweh in the earth, God does use people like Moses, Abraham and Jacob to echo His disposition from heaven. The anguish of the father in this story is used to convey the same sentiment of God towards men. He is frustrated and saddened by the controlling affects of sin upon mankind. He is making continued efforts to preserve them from destruction, and He longs for their deliverance.
b. Another detail expressed in this scripture is that the son is a lunatic meaning he is insane, reckless and foolish beyond control. Lunatic, as it used in this historical text, is most adequately defined as “being driven by the moon, oblivious to reality and totally devoid of self-control. The basic meaning of the word lunatic is synonymous with the word ‘moonstruck’. Here is its definition:
DEF moonstruck: (adj.) 1 – mentally deranged, supposedly by the influence of the moon; crazed. 2 – dreamily romantic or bemused.
These meanings bear great significance to the revelation of the entire story. The moon is the illuminated body of light that rules the darkness. It circles the earth, manipulates the earth’s waters with its gravitational pull and is actually no real source of light, itself. It can only be illuminated by an actual source of light which is the sun. The moon is interestingly and intentionally created to resemble the nature of Satan and his rule over the kingdom of darkness (more on this topic later). It is also no coincidence that Satan’s kingdom is most active at night, the time when the moon rules the skies. So, in keeping with that symbolism, the lunatic son, in this story, is being used to typify moonstruck people who are being deceived and driven by Satan, the prince of darkness.
On the other end of the spectrum are the people of God who are instructed to be children of the light, awake and aware of the dark deceptions of the enemy. But despite that call to be a light to the world, many choose to perform deeds of darkness and in darkness. Upon close examination of this scenario, the connections between the son’s lunacy and those who operate under darkness are intentionally infused, by God, into this narrative of Matthew 17. 1 Thessalonians 5 is one of many passages that provide context for understanding the revelation within the story of the demon-possessed son and his father.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-8
“1But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”
c. The end of Matthew 17:15 notes that this son often fell into fire and water. These two, specific and deadly consequences of the possessed son are also no coincidence. They are included to emphasize the two primary methods of judgment from God upon mankind. The earth and its inhabitants were once destroyed by water, and it will, one day, be destroyed and purified by fire. This is precisely why the lunatic son ‘often’ found himself in these specific, precarious situations. His repeated behavior in darkness mirrors the same behavior of those in the earth who continue in sin, and his obliviousness to consequence is used to show how such behavior puts workers of darkness in danger of judgment. Scripture also verifies this revelation with exactness:
2 Peter 3:1-7
“1This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
People who consciously reject God and challenge the authority of Christ are subject to sin’s bondage in darkness. By the very definition of darkness, they are unable to see, and they become unaware of the imminent danger of God’s judgment by fire.
d. Matthew 17:16 is where things begin to get more interesting. The father tells Jesus that none of His disciples could cure his possessed son, and this detail begins to describe the greater issue being highlighted by the story. Those who are called as the children of God are always equipped to overcome evil by the power of God residing in them. Any failure to do so is a failure of people to retain righteous power, not God. To explain this using the symbols of the story, light is always more powerful than darkness. Any failure to dispel darkness is a result of no light.
Any failure to dispel darkness is a result of no light
Israel’s leaders and Pharisees are actually being exposed as the great failures here, and this situation is revealed as one divinely allowed to expose their faithlessness or lack of belief in “The Light.” This situation was designed to uncover their deeds of darkness, and it is proven by the next verse.
“17Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?”
e. The religious leaders surrounding the situation should have been able to cast the demon out of the boy, but their hearts of darkness were incapable of dispelling the dark forces at work in the father’s son. Their self-exalting ways, or desire for personal glory obscured the light and denied them the power that should have driven out the forces of darkness. So, Jesus appropriately calls the religious generation of that time, “faithless and perverse”. He called them faithless because they refused to believe in the light that was in their presence; He called them perverse because they were, instead, competing to illuminate themselves at the expense of the true light given to them in the Word of God.
It is at this point that the most basic meaning of perversion is defined. Perversion is darkness. It is a choice to operate under the cover of darkness, even when light is available. Nothing provokes God’s hand of judgment quicker than the love of darkness—intentional wickedness. John 3 explains it best:
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
Let’s continue to look at the specific definition of Perversion:
Pervert Def (verb): 1 – alter (something) from its original 2 – a person whose sexual behavior is regarded as abnormal and unacceptable.
Perverse Def (adj): 1 – (of a person or their actions) showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences.
Obstinate – firmly or stubbornly adhering to one’s purpose, opinion, etc.; not yielding to argument, persuasion, or entreaty; inflexible persistence /turn 2 – contrary to the accepted or expected standard or practice. 3 – (of a verdict) against the weight of evidence or the direction of the judge on a point of law. 4 – sexually perverted.
There is a reason people would rather operate in darkness. By doing so, one can avoid being exposed themselves while working to disparage someone else. Light exposes everything, while darkness can be used to hide one’s weaknesses or evil intent. This was the method of operation at work with the religious leaders who sought to glorify themselves at the expense of everyone else, even Jesus. This is perversion at its core. Because of this, Jesus’ immediate reaction to the pleading father’s case was not directed at the father at all. His first response doesn’t fault him nor does he question him. He doesn’t even address the son first. Instead, He rebukes the generation of unbelievers who failed in their purpose to serve God and be light unto men. The rather chose to leverage their position—the position given to them by God—for glory among their peers. They wanted to cast the demon out, but only to heap praise upon themselves.
This type of immature and competitive, “prove-something” attitude happens elsewhere in scripture, and Jesus responds in the same way.
“1The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven…. 4A wicked and adulterous* generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.”*
Again, these religious elites had turned the grace of God into a competition of carnality. Whoever could accomplish the greatest physical works or wealth was esteemed as the most powerful. Whoever made the greatest show was the deemed the greatest, rather than God who was/is deserving. This backwards way of thinking and working is the definition of perversion and why Jesus called them so. These distortions of faith and manipulations of men hasten the wrath and judgment of God upon the children of disobedience, even before He deals with the rest of the sinful world.
1 Peter 4:17
“17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God”
The most alarming reality is that this has become the way of religion today. Materialism and faux manifestations are the signs by which religious leaders attempt to prove themselves superior. Meanwhile, those who truly hunger and thirst for truth and righteousness go unsatisfied, undelivered and uncured just like the demon-possessed son. Through the immediate response of Jesus and the context in supporting scriptures, it is conclusive that the perverse and powerless state of “the called” is the primary message of this story followed by the wickedness of man. Such evil among those who are called unto righteousness and the light is a greater indication of impending judgment than the sins of the world.
14For many are called, but few are chosen.
Jesus asks the questions, “How long am I to remain with you? How long am I to bear with you”? By asking such questions, Jesus is revealing His thoughts of imminent judgment caused by the wickedness of His purported followers. How long would He put up with such wickedness and perversion? In the end, this story in Matthew 17 describes the circumstances surrounding judgment, past and future; it is about the state of men in the last days. They collectively provide a glimpse into the times and seasons when the Lord will return to judge the earth.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
“1But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.*
1The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. 2He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. 3And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? 4A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.
2 Peter 3:7
“by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
It was the unbelief of the disciples that prevented them from being able to cast out the demon. It was their failure to walk in light. When Jesus returns, the state of the world will be such that no one will be able to deal with the demonic forces ruling the world. Darkness will be the perverted majority and authority. Jesus and His authority will, once again, be required to regain power over the depravity and lunacy of the times.
As we continue, we will look more closely at the following:
- What exactly is a spirit of perversion?
- What role will a perverted spirit play in the end times?
- How does a perverted spirit work?
- Even Beyond Sexual perversion, what other types of perversion are at work in the world?